14 Toxic Work Habits You Need to Break

By July 26, 2018Career
Of course you're going to develop work habits in your career. But not all work habits are created equal.
Of course you’re going to develop work habits in your career. But not all work habits are created equal.Getty Images

When you’re building your career, you’ll probably establish a few work habits.

You may pick up a few from your first boss as an intern. You may take advice from your mom who only wants to see your career bloom (thanks, mom!). You simply might even adapt a few from people you admire who you haven’t had the chance to meet yet.

Unfortunately, not all work habits are created equal.

While you thought saying yes to everything meant that you were going to flourish in your job, or by not asking for help you thought you were being a superstar, these kind of habits you brought into your work life could actually be toxic.

You just might not know it yet.

Instead of continuing to do things that may hurt your career more than help, ditch these 14 toxic habits so you can have a better, more fulfilling career.

Striving for Success

If we’re not careful, how we choose to define success can alter the course of our careers.

Does success mean a seven-figure salary while being CEO of a big firm? Or, does it mean that you have the ability to do what you love, but with less pay? Ultimately, there’s no wrong answer. But instead of striving for success, aim to better yourself instead.

Success often has a lot to do with luck, and “it certainly has to do with other people’s opinions, both of which are outside of your control,” Robert B. O’Connor, author of “Gumptionade: The Booster for Your Self-Improvement Plan,” told Fast Company. “If you focus on excellence, you are focused on something that is within your control.”

When you focus on bettering your craft, you’ll have more control over your talents, which will boost your confidence.

In other words, bet on yourself not on others’ opinions.

Showing up Late

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Whether you think your boss notices or not, don’t show up late to your job. It simply shows everyone else that you don’t care that much about your job and the company.

Being punctual will not only make your boss notice that you’re determined to get things done, but that you’re also holding yourself accountable.

Here’s a good thing: This toxic habit might be one of the easiest to fix.

Set your alarm to go off earlier and be mindful of how you use your time in the morning. The more you practice waking up early, the easier it can be to leave the house and get to work on time.

Saying Yes to Everything

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While Shonda Rhimes did write a book called “Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person,” that doesn’t mean that you should follow her footsteps — no matter how much you love her.

What you should take from her book is this: The only things you should say yes to are things that truly make you happy.

Saying yes to everything could hurt you in the long run because it can stop you from saying yes to more important things in the future. And when you don’t have time to do the things you really want to do, you inch closer to burning out.

Instead, opt to say “no” more and say “yes” at moments that will help your career grow and allow you to become a better person/employee.

Being a Doormat

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Sometimes when you say yes a lot, you’re allowing yourself to become a doormat.

People assume you’ll do something because they asked you. Stop this habit immediately. Your time and how you tolerate bad behavior from others determines how others treat you. This could affect your career because others might not take you seriously or they’ll take advantage of your kindness.

Instead of allowing others to walk all over you, improve your emotional intelligence. This means being more observant and knowing how to handle others’ emotions, among other things.

Once you begin to put these things into practice, you won’t allow others to treat you poorly.

Not Taking Breaks

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While it might be impossible to take a break in certain professions, not taking one is toxic. It can make you less productive.

According to Fast Company, when you take a break you’re able to sustain your concentration and energy levels for a longer period of time, even if your break’s just 15 or 20 minutes.

Take a walk, call someone you love or have a healthy lunch. Those minutes are your time to replenish your energy. Use them wisely.

Having Conferences Calls in an Open Room

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Let’s be real: No one likes to be on a conference call. However, no one really likes to hear someone else on a conference call while they’re trying to do work.

Having a conversation with someone through a speakerphone at your desk is rude. Try to go somewhere private.

And if it’s just you, don’t speak to the person through speakerphone.

Not Asking for Help

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Even though you think that you have it all figured out, you sometimes need to delegate tasks or ask for help.

Not doing this adds unnecessary pressure to your work day and can stress you out. Plus, asking for help doesn’t mean that you’re weak. It actually can make you more successful and a stronger employee.

Being Too Hard on Yourself

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Sometimes we are our own worst critics.

We beat ourselves up when we make a mistake and overthink every decision. Maybe we suffer from imposter syndrome.

However, no one else is probably beating you up besides you.

By having this type of conversation with yourself, you’re actually preventing yourself from moving forward in your career. You don’t have the confidence you need to take a risk.

To stop this toxic habit, aim to be more forgiving toward your mistakes. We’re always growing in our careers and if we’re not failing every now and then, then that means we’re not taking enough risks or trying enough new things.

Not Giving Back

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Just because you’re trying to build a career doesn’t mean that you always have to take, take, take. Sometimes the best thing is giving to people who are less fortunate or just starting out in their careers.

By not giving back, you’re preventing yourself from establishing strong career relationships with other people, which could cause issues in the future should you ever need assistance from your current or former colleagues.

All in all, we’re here to build each other up and to support one another. And if you don’t do that, no one will trust you with their time or the next time you network. They’re just going to think that you want something from them.

Complaining About Your Co-Workers or Boss in the Office

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If you want your career to go down the drain, gossip and complain in the office — all the time. Saying bad things about the people you work with is toxic in so many ways.

For one, your co-workers will think that if you’re saying horrible things about other people, then you must be talking poorly about them, too. Also, if you’re constantly saying negative things, your fellow employees may not want to work with you or they may think you have nothing positive to contribute.

Be mindful with your words. Stop gossiping. If you do have an issue with something or someone, bring it up in a professional manner.

Making Everyone Happy

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While you want to do a good job, you don’t want to be a yes man/woman.

Your boss hired you because he/she likes your ideas and wants you to bring them to the table, but you can’t let yourself shine if you’re always just agreeing with what they say and do.

Sometimes disagreeing with your co-workers and boss is a good thing. You’re able to collaborate with them and possibly even come up with a better idea. When you just agree with everything that everyone says, no one will be able to trust you with helping them come up with better ideas for the company or that you’ll be honest with them.

Next time, if you have an idea, counter with it in a polite way. Your co-workers and boss will appreciate your honesty.

They may even really like your out-of-the-box thought.

Working After Hours

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It can be hard not to stay in the office after everyone leaves to show how hard you work, especially during the first couple of months at your new job.

However, you may do more damage in the long run because you’re sacrificing your health and sleep when you don’t give yourself enough time to rest.

Instead of trying to get ahead, sometimes you need to stop, draw a bath and let your body rest.

Self care has become such a huge phenomenon because people have been forgetting to put themselves first. So this week, if you feel like you’re pushing yourself just a littletoo much, hit pause and relax, and don’t burn out.

Having a Sloppy Desk

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Even though your sloppy desk might not affect your co-workers or your boss, it could be disrupting your own workflow without you realizing it.

Not only might you have a hard time trying to find papers you need, it can show your fellow employees that you’re not responsible or considerate with your space.

Being neat is especially vital for communal spaces. Make sure to clean up after yourself.

Not Being a Good Team Player

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Trying to work with someone who’s impossible to work with can cause a lot of stress and tension. It can be tough to get anything done, and also especially frustrating when there’s no trust.

So do a self check every once in a while.

Are you completing the things you promised you’d do? Are you putting other co-workers down? Taking credit that doesn’t belong to you? Showing up to meetings on time?

If any of this sounds like something you’ve done, re-evaluate and ditch the habit.


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